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Making ‘Everything Available’ – Transforming the (online) services and experience for British Library users

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In this closing keynote of the OpenAthens conference 2018 I discuss whether as a sector we have failed our users in how we currently provide access to scholarly information, and I describe the British Library's response - the change management portfolio 'Everything Available'.

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Making ‘Everything Available’ – Transforming the (online) services and experience for British Library users

  1. 1. Making ‘Everything Available’ – Transforming the (online) services and experience for British Library users Dr Torsten Reimer Head of Research Services Torsten.Reimer@bl.uk / @torstenreimer http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8357-9422 OpenAthens Conference, 22/03/2018
  2. 2. www.bl.uk 2 Why are we (libraries, publishers, you, me) here? To help people to – Find information – Access information – Use information – Share knowledge • Society relies on us to ‘get it right’ so we can build a better world for everyone.
  3. 3. www.bl.uk 3 Have we failed our users with regards to content access?
  4. 4. www.bl.uk 4 Other industries have found solutions
  5. 5. www.bl.uk 5 Access (management) and open access challenges • A fully open world has no need for access management • (>50% of UK journal articles available openly within a year of publication in 2016, according to UUK report) • Even a full OA world would have challenges: – discovery (let’s not forget monographs!) – and preservation
  6. 6. www.bl.uk 6 Before there is access there has to be discovery
  7. 7. www.bl.uk 7 Libraries in a changing environment • Research is digital, are we? • Are we still needed for discovery? • In an open world, do we still have a role for access to digital content? • Will print content become invisible? • Global content grows so fast, our collections are shrinking (relatively)
  8. 8. www.bl.uk 8 Developing a (British Library) response • Sets our vision for the BL to be the most open, creative and innovative institution of its kind in the world Living Knowledge • Defines the strategy to lead the transformation of the Library’s services and contemporary collections in support of research Research Services • Delivers the research services strategy as a cross-Library effort, providing new and improved services Everything Available
  9. 9. www.bl.uk 9 From analogue to (open) digital model Other content BL collections Open Access Digital, onsite access Digital, remote access BL collections
  10. 10. www.bl.uk 10 Elements of the emerging research services strategy Bring content to users and their favoured tools Assist researchers to find content and extract information from it From Local collections to Global content – everything Discoverable & Accessible From Just-in-Case to Just-in-Time content provision Sustainable global knowledge environment Make 3rd party content available relevant for research Shared Collection Management Services
  11. 11. www.bl.uk 11 Helping users to find information • Help users to not just search documents but find information (e.g. text and data mining) • Search across external material becomes more important • Open access discovery and ‘non-traditional’ formats • Achieve better discovery by enabling content creators to share more effectively (e.g. through persistent identifiers)
  12. 12. www.bl.uk 12 Let’s think about a unified access workflow Content is open access? • On-site: access • Remote: access Content free to read online? • On-site: access • Remote: access Digital content with remote licence? • On-site: access • Remote: access Digital content without remote licence? • On-site: access • Remote: no access Legal deposit content? • On-site: access • Remote: no access Content can be procured just-in- time? • On-site: access • Remote: access Other paid-for option available? • On-site: access • Remote: access Print-only copy available? • On-site: access • Remote: digitisation on demand No copy available at all? • On-site: no access • Remote: no access
  13. 13. www.bl.uk 13 Thinking about user experience (2017 Bunnyfoot study) • Worked with an external company (Bunnyfoot) to answer three questions: • Methodology: – Review of comparator websites – Usability testing of BL website and catalogue – Contextual research on physical journey to retrieve and research from requested items and perceptions of process to gain access to print and digital items 1. What is the current discovery experience like for users of the Library? 2. How easy is it to move from discovery to retrieving the item for viewing? 3. How does the British Library compare to other similar institutions?
  14. 14. www.bl.uk 14 Example of issues identified in the study • Most participants wanted a Google-like search experience when using the catalogues. • Non-Readers expected a simple Google-like interface that would search everything. • Participants struggled to understand the difference between searching the main catalogue, the website and Explore Further. • All non-academics who use the site search bar did not find the main catalogue without prompting. • All non-academics and some academics observed modified their search by amending the search query rather than using the filters. Resulted in over 60 recommendations to improving the discovery experience It is a daunting prospect, I haven't worked out my approach yet – I have to figure out what manuscripts exist… As long as something is in the main catalogue, it's easy. User testing: current Reader on researching manuscripts It doesn't look any different, so I don't know what Explore Further has done for my search. User testing: current Reader At this point I’d go back to Google. User testing: potential Reader
  15. 15. www.bl.uk 15 Concluding thoughts • Discovery and access are enablers of progress – therefore we have a huge responsibility to society • We will fail without putting user experience at the heart of what we do • Let’s work together

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